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Spruce’s Commitment to Becoming an Anti-Racist Organization

Over the past few years, Spruce has started to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) approaches into the fabric of our organization. We are committed to doing the work to become an inclusive, anti-racist organization. In light of recent events, we compiled a list of resources to learn more about anti-racism and a few local organizations who are doing the work.

We acknowledge the work we still need to do as an organization and a community. Spruce has struggled with effectively addressing our challenges in this critical space and decided to more intentionally focus on integrating DEI approaches into our work this year. The Spruce Foundation developed a strategic plan with specific diversity, equity and inclusion goals, both organization-wide and committee-specific in fall 2019, in order to begin incorporating DEI approaches in our work on every level. 

What are our DEI goals this year? 

  • Diversify Spruce’s connections with organizations, groups, networks and funders
  • Support organizations committed to DEI
  • Develop a volunteer base and programming that reflect the Philadelphia community
  • Initiate formal, funded DEI training for the board 

How have we been doing? 

In January, we prepared a report outlining our mid-year progress, next steps, and challenges. We confronted the fact that our history has not reflected the ways in which we want to show up as it relates to anti-racist work. Our mid-year report reflected this in our challenges as well. We knew these were challenges we could solve. To address these challenges, Spruce organized an Ad Hoc committee tasked with four immediate responsibilities:

  • Build out a budget and fundraising plan that aligns with Spruce’s strategic goals
  • Support each committee in implementing and measuring DEI strategic goals
  • Support integration of DEI approaches in our 2020-21 recruitment cycle
  • Plan introductory DEI training for the full board

This working group has helped to keep us on track, discuss challenges we experience as they arise and brainstorm new tactics to achieve our goals. 

Despite the challenges we faced, we have had several successes working toward our goals:

  • We conducted research on diverse organizations and networks and started to map our current board relationships. We will use some of this research for recruitment outreach, upcoming fundraising campaigns and events outreach.
  • We asked baseline DEI questions on our 2019-20 grant application to help develop questions and scoring criteria for the upcoming application cycle, and we clarified our commitment to DEI in the Grant FAQ section on our website. 
  • Spruce Council offered an avenue to engage a more diverse audience and offer more accessible programming aimed to cultivate the next generation of philanthropists in Philadelphia. Spruce Council is one way in which we are intentionally diversifying our volunteer base.
  • In mid-May, Dwayne Wharton of Just Strategies provided a packed 90-minute overview laying the foundation for DEI, providing a historical framing for DEI work, and applying DEI principles and framework for success. This training will inform our work moving forward to achieve our current goals and develop more targeted goals in the future. 

What have we learned so far along this journey?

  • Doing the work is hard. Having honest and vulnerable conversations on a regular basis is hard. Addressing privilege is hard. Stepping outside of our comfort zone is hard. But it’s not just important to step into these challenges, it’s essential. 
  • DEI work is an ongoing process without a clear ending. Our journey has only just begun.
  • Every step we take towards becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization also benefits Spruce board members as individuals and the community we serve.

We are starting this blog series to share regular updates on our commitment to and our progress toward becoming a more inclusive, anti-racist organization. Stay tuned for future updates.

Photo by Philadelphia Inquirer